Alluring sheen of Colombian Emeralds

This Picture Story charged Anton Zhdanov in the area of ​​Colombia where emeralds are mined.

In the Cordillera, the lost villages in Boyaca province produces 60 percent of the world's emeralds. Muzo - the largest of the three villages. These deposits - the largest and oldest in Colombia. Production is carried out for more than 400 years, attracting like a magnet from across the country who wants to miraculously get rich.

12 Photo © Anton Zhdanov text: Katia Suchinova via drugoi






Local legend tells of the tragic love story of three gods. In any case, here are the most luxurious emeralds, the most beautiful butterflies and the most dangerous snakes. And as one of the gods are still angry at Muzo frequent lightning without thunder.




Early Member Muzo Sein was once a simple worker at the mine, and is now a member of the city council. But he still sometimes descends into the mine to wander through the narrow tunnels, covered with canvas with oxygen tubes in which water flows from the upper tiers.




Today, people work for companies or owners looking for emeralds alone - in the river and abandoned mines. Most stones in mines depth of 60 meters and more. But down there, amid the dust and waste rock, hell, and many prefer to be a witting "guahero" and search for the stones alone. The eternal question - to work on the big boss of the food or to seek no confidence in the future.




Alone, free guahero the hardest. Ten years ago, the land redeveloped immediately dumped into the river, and it was possible to find stones of different sizes, are not seen by the workers. Now, every truck the waste from the mine to wash thoroughly three times, and stones almost no waste. Workers are sometimes combined into groups - today he hews breed tomorrow for water, on the third day - removes waste. And so from year to year.




Granddaughter and her grandfather - free "guahero." The man wants to show us they extracted rocks and climb them in the mouth - they are hidden behind his gum. The older generation still remembers working emerald war late 80s - early 90s - it was a black time for Muzo. I killed the bad guy and the good guy started a real war of stones and money, with the involvement of drug cartels and criminal groups from across the country. People tried once again to not leave the house for fear of becoming a victim of a stray bullet. After seven nights on the streets there was not a living soul. Number of victims in the "Emerald Wars" was according to various estimates at least 2,500 people. But more than ten years in these places do not shoot.



Accidents are not uncommon in the mines - blasting operations are conducted in violation of safety standards, and landslides are frequent.



Antonio Torres every day for 30 years, comes to the river to dig emeralds. "Now we have to go through centners of land in the river to find anything." The last stone he found a month ago, and it sells for $ 10. Many people have something like nostalgia for the emerald fever: War is war, but then the stones, large and small, expensive and not very good, found everything. Money is also spent on alcohol and women, we thought that the emerald will always be. Many now regret that they have not accumulated money and not leave these places. And now - it's too late.



These lands were pitted up and down 15 years ago. And so the circle again and again. As Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote, "redeemed their sins, people infected mania transfusion from a sieve."



Cock fighting - a typical activity in their spare time for many Colombians. People gather on the outskirts of the village every two weeks, the amount of bids reaches 3,000 euros.



The government is now following the export of precious stones, and those who are engaged in this business, has not figure out relations through arms. The market is already divided and stones became more accessible. Now, you can buy them in the capital, almost in the center of the city, right from the source.



Behind a beautiful stone faces many different fates, sometimes - lives. Beautiful women wearing these stones never think about the way that they went. For them - it's just another jewel, and for each new generation of residents of Muzo - the meaning of life. How strong is the belief in man's dream?



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